IT STARTED with little promise, but Everton’s transfer deadline day soon developed into a bitter-sweet flurry of activity culminating in the loss of their star player and the injection of two fresh faces.
David Moyes was left dismayed and furious at the exit of want-away Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta to Arsenal, just hours after he had been celebrating adding the pace and potential goals his side craves courtesy of Argentine forward Denis Stracqualursi and Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe.
Moyes also sold Jermaine Beckford, who departed for Leicester City with the Toffees making up to £4m profit on a player they signed for nothing from Leeds United last summer.
And Yakubu, who had become surplus to requirements at Goodison, clinched a move to Blackburn Rovers for a fee near the £2m mark.
But while it was the failed battle to retain the services of 29-year-old Arteta which gripped supporters just hours from the deadline, the capture of Stracqualursi could mean Everton at least have someone prepared to wear the famous number nine shirt at Goodison.
The powerful 23-year-old, who is nicknamed Traca, has built a promising reputation in South America, after he burst onto the scene with Argentine minnows Tigre.
While Stracqualursi also had a brief trial with Leicester City earlier this summer, Argentina-based football journalist Daniel Colasimone believes the Blues have landed themselves a genuine talent.
“He was a highly regarded player at Tigre,” says the editor of argentinafootballworld.com.
“They are a small team so he did very well to be the player with the most goals last season, 21, when you combine the Apertura and Clausura charts.
“In the first half of the Clausura, especially, he was devastating. Being at such a small club, he was no superstar, but as he kept banging in goals his stature grew considerably, culminating with a superb performance against Boca Juniors in April in Tigre’s 3-3 draw.
“He became the first player to score a hat trick against Boca in the Bombonera in 15 years and was suddenly on everybody’s lips.
“He is a bit of a cult figure, the type of players fans love as he is a big, powerful focal point of his team’s attack and is also willing to get stuck in and work hard for the team.”
Colasimone believes Stracqualursi will adapt to the physical demands of the Premier League.
He said: “There is little surprise that he is moving on, though nobody here had much of an inkling that he would be off to England just now.
“He was being lined up by champions Velez as a replacement for their recently departed striker Santiago Silva, who went to Fiorentina.
“He should do well in the Premier League, though it will certainly be a test for him. Due to his hulking size he is not super mobile, but I definitely wouldn’t call him a slouch.
“As I said, he’s hard working and not afraid to track back.
“His job, I assume, will not be to run about too much, but to act as a target man in the box, and his characteristics would seem ideally suited to Everton.
“He is the type of big number nine who is valuable to the team even when he is not scoring, as he can play with his back to goal and is quite skilful with his feet.
“In that context I would compare him to someone like Andy Carroll, or even a Mark Viduka. He is more than capable of laying off nice little passes around the edge of the box to make chances for his team-mates.
“He is also dominant in the air, at least in the Argentinean league. I would temper all this by saying that this type of striker is quite a rarity in Argentina, and tends to do well here as defences have trouble coping with such a powerful, direct threat.”
Ultimately Colasimone, who hosts Argentinian football podcast ‘The Hand of Pod, believes fans may have to be patient to see the very best of the promising hit-man.
“It’s the reason that someone like Martin Palermo could score hundreds of goals here but did not really make an impact in Europe,” he says.
“That is not to say Denis will find it too tough in England, I think he is deft enough on the ball to excel, but he may take a little while to adapt.”
Moyes was also able to tie up a deal for Drenthe, 24, after being given permission from the Spanish giants Madrid to begin negotiations yesterday afternoon.
Drenthe, who had been in talks with Galatasaray earlier this week, represents the pacy left-sided midfielder the Toffees have craved.
Drenthe joined Real Madrid in 2007 for 14 million euros after impressing at the European Under-21 Championships but struggled for playing time under Jose Mourinho and had disciplinary problems on loan at Hercules.
The former Feyenoord starlet can also play left-back, and means Moyes can try to re-ignite his team’s attacking threat down the left flank by teaming Drenthe up with Leighton Baines in a partnership he will hope mirrors the profitable one the England defender enjoyed with Steven Pienaar.